The Balcony Club

May 14, 2014 -

John Heald

We have the dome closed here on the Carnival Miracle and it gives guests a chance to use the pool and stay warm as we cruise the Alaskan waters and the guests really appreciate the covered deck for sure. The only problem with this is that you can’t do too much with live music because if I put the live four-piece band, Music Unlimited, there or one of the soloists or even the DJ, the music echoes and makes even the lowest sound levels become amplified and, honestly, it sounds awful. So most of the time, we have background music on there as we sail through the glaciers and the amazing scenery that Alaska provides. So last week on our sea day, I walked onto Lido Deck and saw people reading, relaxing and looking out of the windows and they were doing all of that to some kind of hip-hopping drum and bass Lady Gabeiber music. ……. while we cruised Alaskan waters. Oh FFS. I was not a happy chap. So after waterboarding a few staff members, I told them to please change the background music. They asked me, “To what” and I said ummmm ………………ummmmm……………….ummmmmm.

I honestly couldn’t think of what music was suitable. Now, when we are in Glacier Bay, we are not allowed any music at all and the same goes for the Alaskan ports but, on sea days, we can …..but what? Dee, my personal assistant, suggested Peruvian Pan Pipes saying it was “super relaxing, eh?”…..she’s Canadian. “How about bollocks,” I replied. That kind of music may be OK if you are having a massage or are suffering from a particularly nasty case of constipation and you need to breathe through your pain before your next push…….but, in Alaska, on a Carnival ship………nope………it doesn’t work.

So then, what music should we play there? Here is a thought– do we need any music at all?

It’s hard to find a place to relax where there isn’t some sort of music playing. What’s wrong with relaxing in silence? Does everything have to have a soundtrack? On a ship in the Caribbean, yes, I agree we must have more Caribbean music and this subject, as you know, has been well discussed and, we will, soon. But in Alaska, under the dome roof, do we need any music at all? Maybe not, but the wrong sort of music is even worse.

So, here is my question. You are in Alaska, the scenery outside is breathtaking and you are sitting under the dome reading 50 Shades of Grey on your Kinldlepad. Do you want music and, if so……….what music should I play? We haven’t got this quite right yet and I need your help.

Time for today’s Q and A………… we go.

Terri Schaefer asks:
My husband and I are traveling on the repositioning cruise for the Carnival Pride from Tampa in March with another couple. My husband and I are platinum members but our friends are not. Are we allowed to bring a guest couple to the captain’s lounge once we check in so that we can all board the ship together or should we get our keys and meet them in the lounge and board from their waiting area? What should we do so that we can board together?

John says: 

Hello Terry Schaefer

Thanks for writing and the simple answer to that questions is no. I am afraid they will have to board after you. You see, we already have Diamond, Platinum and Faster to the Fun guests in the VIP room, so we cannot allow others to board early. However, they will not be far behind you and, once on board, you will meet up and the fun will begin. I hope you have a brilliant time and if there is anything else I can do, please let me know. Best wishes.


Mark Izod asks: 

Hey!!!! How about getting us PLATINUM VIPS reserved seats on the tender?! The ship was the Carnival Dream and we got priority tender service when someone led us down to the tender but it was full. We had to stand all the way from the ship to the pier in the Caymans. Not good enough, bad planning, Carnival. Royal Caribbean gives us Diamonds reserved seats at every show too, just so you know.

John says:

Hello Mark Izod

I agree that if we are going to give our Platinum guests and Diamond guests VIP tender priority, then we should have made sure there were seats. I think though that the staff wanted to make sure that you were able to get on that tender which, judging by what you said, was ready to leave and they didn’t want you to have to wait. It is a good thing that it’s not too far to the pier from the ship. But, I will pass this onto the cruise director on the ship so he is aware. We have no plans to add reserved seating at the shows but certainly the loyalty program is being reviewed as we approach its two year anniversary. Thanks for your loyalty and I hope we see you soon.

Hector Nassari asks:
Heald, all this fuss about chocolate melting cake, awards and adulation. I am a chef de cuisine at a top restaurant in Flint, Michigan. Tried this famous cake on our cruise on Carnival Valor last week and it was ****. The sauce was too thick and the chocolate had no taste and was too mushy. Now I am not all bad, so I asked Joseph, the head waiter, if I could go into the kitchen and show the head chef the secret to making this better but I was refused. What got me mad was the chef never even came to the table to meet with me which, I must say, in our profession is unheard of and a big slap in the face to me. That’s my view on the chocolate melting cake – also have views on other dishes but this is the main point.

John says:

Hello Hector Nassari

Thank you, chef, for taking the time to write. I am sure that our head chef on the Carnival Valor did not mean any disrespect by not visiting you and, unfortunately, as much as he may have wanted to learn from your experience, there are certain insurance and safety rules, I am sure, that would have not allowed a guest behind the lines while the galley is in full operation. Thank you for your comments on the chocolate melting cake. It certainly remains a winner with thousands of our guests each week and, for those who do not like it, we, of course, have options. I hope you had a great time on the cruise and that we see you soon. Best wishes.


Colin Thomson asks:
I am going on the Carnival Conquest on Aug.17, 14. It will be cruise #7 for me with Carnival. I was on the Carnival Breeze last Jan. To say it was amazing would be an understatement. My question is, Who will be the CD & what are the shows? Keep up the good work! Cheers.

John says:          

Hello Colin Thomson

I am very glad to see that you had fun on your cruise and I am sure the cruise on the Carnival Conquest will be just as good or even better. The shows there are The Brits, Studio VIP, Divas and Latin Nights. The cruise director was just confirmed as of today, actually, and will be Gary Brierly. Have a brilliant time and please let me know if you need anything. Best wishes.


Janet Kroll asks:
I have a complaint from our cruise. We are just off the Carnival Liberty and the people in the cabin next to us cabin **** had two kids.The oldest was about 11 years old and the youngest looked about six or seven maybe. The parents would go out drinking and gambling but leave these kids unsupervised until sometimes after 11pm. They screamed and banged around and had the TV loud and we could not sleep. I spoke with my brother, who is a New Jersey state trooper, and he told me that this is child neglect and they would have been arrested… My husband called security every night and nothing was done to force the parents to be in the cabin with them. We were offered a different cabin but why should we have to move? Carnival needs to do something!!! Booking on Liberty ******. Cabin ****

John says:

Hello Janet Kroll

I am sorry to see you were disturbed by this and I can understand your frustration. I can’t agree that this was really “child neglect” but, again, as we do not have a specific rule about this, it is something the parents have to decide if they are comfortable with. I am also sure that if you called security that they would have spoken with the parents accordingly. Once again, I am very sorry this happened and I will make sure it is passed to the right people. Best wishes.


Cindy Brown asks:
John: Is there any way to reward or recognize one of your personal vacation planners? Your PVP, Mark Curler, has planned my cruises for several years now and always does an outstanding job. I have referred numerous friends and family to book through him and they always rave about how great he is. He has even called me after a cruise just to see how everyone liked it or if we enjoyed a new area of the ship. Please let us know how I can send him something in appreciation for all the hard work he does for us. He just finished booking 10 cabins for my family and friends for the week of Thanksgiving, several of which have never cruised Carnival before, and he made the process very easy for everyone.

John says:

Hello Cindy Brown

Consider it done and I shall pass this to his immediate supervisors so he gets the recognition he deserves. It was very kind of you to write and please let me know if there is anything I can do for. Thanks again and hope to see you soon. Best wishes.


William Pethan asks:

John, don’t take this personally but what do you tip the scales at?!!!!! 290, 300 pounds?????

I am asking for your benefit, John Trust me, it is for you, John Heald, that I ask because on July 29, 2015, myself, my wife and eight friends will be with you for the Alaskan cruise from Seattle on the beautiful Miracle. I want just 30 minutes of your time because I have something that will change your life FOREVER, John Heald, and after those 30 minutes, you will never be the same again. I have a friend whose name is FENPHEDRA and it helped me lose 88 POUNDS IN just 5 months, I say 88 pounds in 5 months. It is the cure, John, to what I did suffer from and what I know you suffer from each day– that inner sadness and hatred you have of yourself for getting to be obese. But FENPHEDRA is the answer and I believe in this so much, now I sell this life changer for a living. I sell to my friends and people who I know need help, people like you.

My wife, Trina, and I will be in cabin **** so please can we meet maybe straight away so we can get you on the road to feeling brand new and, as you say, brilliant? LOL. Your life is about to change, John Heald, and we are all going to have an awesome time together.

John says:

Hello William Pethan

You are very kind to think of me like this and may I wish you many congratulations on your weight loss. I am actually just under 250 pounds but have 50-plus to go, for sure, but I need to do this my way, slowly and carefully. I hope you understand, therefore, that while I will enjoy meeting you and shaking your hand, I won’t need any of the Fenphendra. If there is anything I can do for you and your group, please let me know. Best wishes to all.


Christy Fuller asks:
Hello. My husband and I are sailing June 7 on the Carnival Breeze. Loved the ship and CD, Butch, last July so we booked again! We are celebrating our 25th Anniversary. I see people ask you for “stuff” all the time on here, so I thought I would too. 🙂 Love Carnival and looking forward to another great vacation!

John says:

Hello Christy

I am sure this time will be even better and if you can please send me this note again on my Facebook page at and I will see if we can do something for you. Have a great time. Best wishes.


Simon Jarrett asks:
You may be worshipped like some cruise God here but someone has spilled the beans because you don’t write your Facebook page. Another lie, then, Heald. Links 5 and 6 show what your customers think of you.

John says:

Hello Simon Jarrett

Thanks so much for passing this on. Having read this (I wish I hadn’t), I realised that I needed to reply just to set the record straight. Normally, I do not post Cruise Critic links but, in my own defense, I thought I would make an exception. I am well aware of what Pine Bluff and a few others think of me. I must say, I found what Miss EZ4 said to be hilarious – sorry, Miss Easy, it really is my Facebook page and is not ghost written by Mary and Mischelle. They are though a brilliant help when it comes to things like rates and booking concerns because my knowledge of those kinds of things is limited at best and so their help is extremely valuable. But every post is written by me, Miss EZ4, me and only me…………although we both now use the word “bugger” in everyday life. But to Pine Bluff and the other three EZ Wanderers, well, I can only hope that you will sail with me one day and allow me the chance to prove that I am really not that bad of a guy. But until then, I apologise if they think I have led them astray and wish them a brilliant, brilliant day. Best wishes.


Harland Westmoreland asks:
May 2013, my wife and I and another couple cruised on the Carnival Magic …great time! In October, we again cruised on Carnival Magic…another great time but the shows were the same as in May. The couple we cruised with last May just got back from a cruise on Magic. They told us the shows were still the same. My wife and I are booked on Magic for Nov 2nd…do you recon the shows will have changed by then? Thanks

John says:

Hello Harland Westmoreland

It seems you enjoy the Carnival Magic and that’s great news because she is a wonderful ship. We cannot change shows too often, not only do they cost a lot of money to change, but they can only be changed in a dry dock environment. Moving huge set pieces and scenery and bringing in new pieces along with lighting the shows and teaching the cast needs to be done while there are no guests on board and the lounge can be closed. So the three main shows will be the same but you will see different comedians and variety acts. Carnival Magic has a dry dock next year, so let’s see if she will get new shows then and, of course, I will keep you informed. I wish you a wonderful cruise and if there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. Best wishes.


Carol Blue asks:
Just wanted to say that I love your blog, but my absolutely favorite parts are the messages/emails from guest services. It invariably makes me smile to read some of the real comments guests
make, and how you respond to them. Please keep on posting the guest services comments … I, for one, LOVE them. Thanks for doing what you do, John.

John says:

Hello Carol Blue

That is very kind of you and, certainly, it never gets dull or boring working on a cruise ship. I hope you continue to enjoy reading my musings here and on Facebook and hope to see you soon.

Best wishes.


And that’s all for today.

So we have started a new cruise and here is who is with us and where we are going:

Total Guests                                       2,058

USA                                                    1,810

Canada                                                            27

French Canadians                               15

Australia                                             9

UK                                                      48

India                                                    14

Taiwan                                                            8

Montana                                              3

Service Dogs                                      1

Guests Under 18                                 60

Diamond Guests                                 7

Platinum Guests                                 154

Just before I continue, I wanted to address…………………..this;

Ed Reynolds

John, wondering why you put the Canadians and French Canadians on a separate billing on your blog today? It is one country, you know? Thanks, John.

Hello Ed

I thought it important to point out again that the reason I write “French Canadian” is that we receive this in our international breakdown because they request French-speaking Fun Times, menus and other translated material. Best wishes.


Here is where they are going:

May 13                        Seattle                                     departure         4:00pm

May 14                        Sea Day and Elegant night

May 15                        Sitka, Alaska                          7:00am – 8:30pm

May 16                        Juneau, Alaska                        10:00am – 10:00pm

May 17                        Cruise Glacier Bay

May 18                        Ketchikan, Alaska                  7:00am – 2:30pm

May 19                        Sea Day                                  

May 20                        Seattle                                     7:00am

Challenges this cruise include having to tender guests ashore in Sitka and four other ships joining us in Juneau. I learned lots of lessons last cruise– the biggest being that I am not allowed to make announcements on the open decks while in an Alaskan port or in the waterways and glaciers. If I do so again, someone in sandals and a high visibility jacket will tie me to a tree and attach barnacles to my dangly bits.

But I also learned that guests who cruise in Alaska really do want fun and really don’t go to bed at 9pm with a copy of National Geographic Magazine and cup of hot chocolate. They like live music, late comedy shows and fun and that’s what I will do my best to give them this season.

Oh and the excursions………………the excursions are brilliant. These are ports where, if you just pop downtown, buy a T-shirt and come back again to the ship, well, you will regret that forever. Seeing Alaska is not just walking into town– it’s helicopter adventures, whale watching, train riding to the Yukon, sea plane flying, crab fishing, crab eating, bear spotting and so much more. Alaska is truly incomparable.

There must be times when some of you think that what I write here is pure fiction. Yet, it’s not, apart from the times I tell you how a girl found me attractive or I can see my gentleman’s sausage without the use of a mirror. The rest though…….is absolutely true.

Living on a ship is like living in a small town and, what you get in a small town, you definitely get on the ship. So let me then tell you about what happened just now………I mean……….just now. It had been a long day and I had just finished hosting the Welcome Aboard show and I decided to be terribly naughty and pop outside to the balcony for a cigar before bed and enjoy the night air. It is a beautiful night, calm seas, not too much wind, not too cold and, as I sat in my chair and lit the end of my Montecristo, I closed my eyes to relax. It was perfect, the sea, the stars, the aroma of a fine cigar and a wolf howling from the cabin below me ……………….. what?! Yep, a wolf, which was joined on deck 7 by a hyena, and all of Old McDonald’s sodding farm. Yep, it was a first night spot of rumpy pumpy for the guests in cabin 7*** and I, unfortunately, had a front row seat.

But I couldn’t bear to listen as it made me feel a bit uncomfortable, to say the least. Plus, my cigar cost $20 and there was no way I was going to waste it, so I grabbed my headphones and my eyepad and watched an episode of The Walking Dead. Actually, there wasn’t much difference between the sound the zombies were making and the weird sounds from below ……………… lucky bastards.

It seems to me that some folks would consider this to be similar to the Mile High Club. Now, while I can understand the joys of doing “it” in the fresh air, on a cruise ship, I absolutely cannot understand why anyone would want to have rumpy pumpy in a toilet on a plane. Let’s compare the two, shall we? On a cruise ship, you have had wonderful food and breathed in the extraordinary Alaskan air. On a plane, you have had food that was prepared three days before and it all tastes the same and has the texture of an elephant’s scrotum.

So while I can understand someone being in the mood on a cruise ship, I do not understand how you can be on a plane. Having rumpy pumpy on a plane is something I will never understand and, even if I did and before anyone else says it ……… yes …..yes……….I am too fat to fit.

Anyway, by the time I had finished my cigar and removed my headset, the couple were done and all was peaceful again. But I have to tell you, I have been a bit ummmm…….naughty. You see, I looked on the ship’s plans to see exactly what cabin was right under mine and, tomorrow morning, they will receive some chocolate covered strawberries and champagne and a note that will say:

Dear Cabin 7***

You were both amazing last night. It was the most fun I have had in many years.

Thank you.


Age 91

 Your friend,


Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.